Murder Case Jury Accepts Battered-Wife Defense

Barbara Sheehan acquitted after killing her husband
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 6, 2011 6:37 PM CDT
Barbara Sheehan leaves Queens State Supreme Court in September.   (AP Photo/Rick Maiman)
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(Newser) – A Queens woman has been acquitted of murder in a case the New York Times describes as a key test of the battered-woman defense. Barbara Sheehan admitted that she shot her husband to death in 2008. But she testified that she suffered such relentless abuse from the retired NYPD cop that she feared it was only a matter of time before he killed her first. The jury cleared her of murder charges but convicted her of a lesser gun possession charge.

Sheehan's supporters in the courtroom, dressed in purple as a nod to victims of domestic violence, erupted into cheers when the verdict was announced. Prosecutors had described the 50-year-old Sheehan as a liar bent on collecting life insurance, notes the Daily News. The victim's twin brother called it a "bad verdict," adding, "This is the system and you've got to live with it."

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